Selling House Checklist

Before putting the house on the market

  • Hire a certified building inspector to conduct an official inspection.
  • Have your home appraised to see how much it is worth, and what your equity is.
  • Select a real estate agent. Have them visit your home and give you pointers on how to obtain your asking price.
  • Make a list of things to attend to before listing the house.

Increase the home's value

  • Update the kitchen if needed, with new counters and cabinets. Consider replacing the flooring if needed.
  • Renovate old bathrooms, and add a bath or expand a half bath if necessary to ensure the bedroom to bathroom ratio meets current day standards.
  • Hire a tree-trimmer to prune and cut back dead or overgrown limbs.
  • Employ a lawn service to spruce up your yard and fertilize if needed. Clean decks or porches and edge walkways. Plant flowerbeds to improve curb appeal.
  • A fresh coat of paint inside and out can increase the warmth and beauty of the home. Use neutral color schemes and paint the trim. Hire a painting crew if necessary.
  • Update floors if needed. Refinish hardwood flooring, and have carpets and floor rugs or hall runners professionally cleaned.

If you are still living in the home

  • Get rid of everything you don't need, donating to charity when possible.
  • Off season clothing and accessories (ie: Christmas decorations) as well as items from the attic, garage or basement can be boxed and placed in storage.
  • Completely clean all furniture. Have an upholstery cleaner take care of cloth covered couches or chairs if needed.
  • You can't help it if the home looks lived in, but you should make an effort to keep common areas as well as bedrooms and bathrooms clean for interested buyers to tour.

If you have moved out

  • You will need to plan for at least one open house.
  • You may need to rent furniture and accessories to stage your home for the open house(s). Your Realtor may include this as part of their service, or recommend a company.
  • Have spare sets made so your Realtor can show the house as needed.
  • Have two copies of all necessary paperwork, so if you get an interested buyer willing to pay your asking price, you will be ready to close fast.

Open house

  • Do a last minute dust and vacuum, and check bathrooms to ensure they are clean.
  • Nothing sells a house faster than the smell of home baked cookies or brownies.
  • Pick up fresh flowers from a local florist to add that special touch.
  • Allow as much natural light into the home as possible, by opening blinds and tying back drapes.
  • Turn off televisions, and set some quiet classical music playing to create a calm, peaceful atmosphere.
  • Let the Realtor do the selling, and refer any specific questions to them. Some Realtors prefer the homeowner be absent from open houses.

Whether you are managing the sale of your own house or having a realtor do it for you, preparing for the actual sale is a mammoth task. You may be trying to ready for the sale at the same time that you are trying to get ready to move; or, if you are selling a second residence or have already moved out, you may be trying to ensure that an empty house still feels like a home to prospective buyers. There are many things you can do to make your home sale a success; from renovations to increase value and appeal, to staging even if you have moved your own belongings out in order to make it feel warm and inviting.

Tips

Whether or not you get your asking price can hinge on how impressed the buyer is with the home and how easily they can visualize themselves happy in it. This means doing your best to present your house as a comfortable, elegant place to escape from the world outside. No matter what the housing market is doing or what other houses in the neighborhood are selling for, each situation is unique. No-one's house will look exactly like your own - even in cookie cutter neighborhoods, each individual or family will subtly make their home special, reflecting their own sense of style and personality. Working out a plan to present that uniqueness as desirable and appealing is part of the selling process. Once you have done everything in your power to make your home as inviting as possible, you can sit back and wait for the offers. Be prepared to haggle a little - your asking price should be well above the minimum you are willing to accept, and you should also take realtor's fees and closing costs into account as well as expenses for inspections and the like, this checklist can help you get all the basics taken care of before your all important open house.